The outfit preparation, the fanfare, and the hoopla of the first Saturday in May is all over in just two minutes, but there is a place where that magic lasts all year long: the Kentucky Derby Museum, right next door to Churchill Downs. Rachel Collier, Director of Communications at the Kentucky Derby Museum, took me on the Behind the Scenes Tour, showing many different aspects of Churchill Downs along the way. It provides an insider’s view of the non-public areas including the Jockey's Quarters, Millionaires Row, private members-only Turf Club, and the other newly renovated spaces, even snapping a photo right next to the iconic Twin Spires.
Rachel explains, “Many people don’t know, but we are the exclusive tour provider of Churchill Downs – if you want to tour Churchill Downs, the only way is through the Kentucky Derby Museum.”
The Around the Track Golf Cart Tour covers much of the Churchill Downs grounds and concludes with lunch in the private Post Time Kitchen, with an unparalleled view of the track where you may even get to catch a race. Only individuals working on the backside or on this tour have the opportunity to eat here. Carry some peppermints in your pocket, you may have the chance to be up close and personal with the horses on the backside and peppermints are their favorite treat!
If you’d rather stay inside, the Museum has everything to keep you entertained for hours. Here you will enjoy two floors of interactive exhibits that bring the extraordinary experience that is the Kentucky Derby right to you! A 20-minute film shot with 360-degree cameras, The Greatest Race, runs hourly in the Museum.
As we approach Derby season, you may want to jump into the festivities by attending Big Brims & Fancy Trims on April 8, a sample sale of hats from the Museum’s Gift Shop.
“This is the ‘Black Friday’ of hat sales. We have over 400 hats for sale, all under $75 and yes, even fascinators for $1,” says Rachel.
Or if you have a creative itch to make your own hat – Hatitude is perfect for you. The Museum offers a hat making workshop for groups of 15 and up. Last year more than 5,500 people participated. It’s $20 per person and takes about an hour to create your own fedora, fascinator, or big brim hat. They provide the base headwear and all the feathers, bling, flowers and ribbon you can imagine! Hatitude can travel to you if you want to host elsewhere.
In addition, the Museum is becoming a popular choice for weddings, corporate events and more, hosting over 350 events last year.
Even us locals have some history to brush up on before the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, and the Kentucky Derby Museum is the perfect place to do it! Visit derbymuseum.org for more details about offerings and pricing.
IF YOU GO:
The Kentucky Derby Museum is located at 704 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208. For more information call (502) 637-1111 or visit derbymuseum.org.